Hornit AIRO Balance Bike Review

A fun, quick, and nimble little balance bike, the Hornit AIRO offers plenty of fun in a small, lightweight package. Featuring a magnesium frame and air tires, the AIRO is one of the lightest balance bikes on the market making it perfect for the smallest of toddlers. As an added bonus it also comes in 5 different colors!

We put the AIRO to the test with three young riders and found that while it was a great fit for two of them, it was too small and less than ideal for our very tall 3-year-old tester. So while the AIRO is an amazing little bike, be sure to check out our review below to learn if it is a great option for your little rider.

toddler testing out the Hornit AIRO balance bike

Hornit AIRO Balance Bike Overview

RATING: Recommended

MSRP: $185

BEST FOR: Beginning, timid riders in 2T – 3T. Not ideal for taller kids in 4T+ clothes.

SPECIFICATIONS

SEAT HEIGHT: 11 1/8″ – 16.5″ (But safe range 12″ to 15″ without optional shorter seat post, 11 1/8″ to 15″ with shorter seat post)
FITS PANTS SIZES: 18mo – 4T
WEIGHT: 6.4 lbs.
TIRES: Air
FRAME: Magnesium
FOOTREST:
Yes
TURNING LIMITER:
No
BRAKE:
No

PROS:

  • Super lightweight magnesium frame
  • Cushioning 2.25″ wide air tires
  • Handle in the frame for easy carrying by adults
  • Seat post is highly adustable
  • Kid-sized, padded saddle
  • Lifetime warranty on frame and fork

CONS:

  • Narrow handlebar can cause twitchy steering for taller riders
  • Minimimal clearance between the ground on the bottom of the post when the seat is set to its minimum height (shorter seat post now available through Hornit to prevent this issue)
  • No handbrake
  • Seat height adjustment requires tool

Hornit AIRO Balance Bike Review – Results of our Test Rides

We tested the AIRO balance bike with three young testers. A barely 2-year-old tester still in 18-months clothes, a three-year-old in 3T clothes, and an almost 4-year-old in size 5 clothes. All three riders had a very different experience on the bike, which isn’t surprising considering our three tested varied greatly in size and skill levels!

For our smallest of testers, the AIRO offered an amazing and smooth ride. From the first phases of walking the bike to confidently gliding, the AIRO delivered a fun, smooth, and impressive ride. The AIRO’s small build fits perfectly beneath their smaller frames, helping them build confidence to ride faster and further.

riding a yellow AIRO Hornit balance bike

On the flip side, with our taller rider in size 5 clothes, the smaller build of the AIRO worked to her disadvantage as the narrow handlebars and shorter wheelbase (as compared to larger 14″ balance bikes), were simply too short to provide her a stable base. As a result, while the seat height of the AIRO can fit a child in 4T or 5 clothes, we found the AIRO wasn’t a great fit for taller kids in 4T+ clothing (more about this below).

AIRO with Small Toddlers

We found the AIRO to be an amazing little bike for kids for young riders in 18 months to 3T pants. With a minimum seat height of 11.25″, the AIRO is one of the few balance bikes on the market that easily accommodates younger testers in 18-months pants.

Newly 2-year-old and quite petite in size (36″ tall), the AIRO was a great fit for our youngest tester in size 18-months pants. Although he has a heavier and slightly larger balance bike at home, he had been hesitant to ride (or even walk it) for months. Not giving up, his parents continued to encourage him to ride, but to no success.

Upon hopping on the AIRO, however, within seconds he seemed to finally “get it”. For the first time, he was not only independently walking a balance bike he was doing so happily and willingly and without the need for over-the-top encouragement!

tiny toddler walking a Hornit AIRO balance bike
AIRO with a Toddler in 18-months Pants

Or second, 39″ tall 3-year-old tester in 3T clothes also had a great experience on the AIRO. Already confident on a balance bike, he hopped on the AIRO and began zipping down the driveway and around the sidewalk. With a smile on his face, he ran faster and glided longer than he previously could on his own balance bike. The AIRO was well-loved and performed like a champ for him!

riding the AIRO Hornit balance bike with feet up on the foot rests

A more aggressive rider by nature (for his size), the AIRO delivered as he went down curbs, ramps and easily weaved in and out of the leaf piles in the neighborhood. From the air tires to the cushioned saddle, he was right at home on the AIRO.

smiling toddler riding the Hornit AIRO

With the seat height set to 14.5″, the bike was a great fit and even provided a bit of room for growth!

AIRO with Older/Taller Toddlers

For our older and much taller almost 4-year-old tester, her experience was quite the opposite. Being 3.5″ taller than our 3-year-old tester previously shown, it quickly became clear that she was simply too big for the AIRO.

With an 18.5″ inseam, we didn’t think twice about having her test out the AIRO as when we received the AIRO (and when we first published this review), it was advertised to fit kids with inseams ranging from 11.8″ to 18.9″. The maximum seat height of 16.5″ on the AIRO also provided a comfortable fit for her.

Toddler running on the Hornit AIRO

But upon testing out the bike in the wild, it quickly became clear that although the bike was originally advertised to fit her, it was in fact too small. Within minutes of her maiden voyage, she experienced a very fast and dangerous high-speed crash.

Luckily she was okay (Hornit’s helmet really saved the day!), but the smaller frame and narrower handlebars seemed to provide too small of a base for her taller and wider frame (more about this below). While her crash was a result of several factors, twitchy steering appeared to be the major culprit.

Upon bringing our concern about the narrower handlebars to AIRO, they have since reduced the maximum recommended inseam range of the AIRO from 18.9″ to 18.1″. We commend Hornit for acknowledging that while an amazing bike, the AIRO is not a great fit for taller riders.

Features of the AIRO Hornit

Lightweight Frame

At just 6.4 pounds, Hornit touts the AIRO’s lightweight magnesium frame and fork as its primary selling point. We agree that this is impressive. Especially for young toddlers, a balance bike under 8 pounds can make a huge difference in the child’s ability to maneuver the bike and progress more quickly in their skills.

For older or heavier more experienced riders, however, the lightweight frame can feel too light as the bike can feel less” grounded” when flying around corners at speed or tackling pump tracks. We did not come across this issue with our younger testers, but it was noticeable on our older tester.

Like the very similar Vitus Smoothy, the Hornit AIRO’s frame also has an opening in the center of the frame that acts as a carrying handle. This is an incredibly cool feature.

Mom carrying Hornit AIRO by its frame handlebar

If you’ve never had a child on a balance bike before, let us give you a reality check. You’ll be carrying that balance bike… a lot! Toddlers often decide they are done mid-ride, and refuse to even ride the bike back to the car. That carrying handle is so convenient.

Narrow Handlebar

The Hornit AIRO’s handlebar is one of the most narrow on the market. At 14.25″ wide (not including the wide grip bumpers that cannot be used to actually grip), they about 1.5″ more narrow than the Yeedoo TooToo and 1.75″ more narrow than the woom 1.

Comparison of handlebar width of Hornit AIRO and Yedoo TooToo

The narrow bar is great for petite toddlers as their frames are still small enough to allow the young riders to have a wide stance on the handlebars with their hands extending several inches past their shoulders.

young boy holding onto the handlebars of the Hornit AIRO

But as kids get older and their frames get wider, the narrow bars can become problematic. For example, take a look at the difference in the arm position of another three-year-old tester on two different balance bikes below. The woom 1 on the left has a 16″ wide handlebar while the Strider on the right has a 13 3/8″ handlebar.

The wider set handlebars of the woom allow her to extend her arms significantly out past her shoulders as compared to the Strider. With wider set hands, minor movements on the wider handlebars won’t affect the overall steering and control of the bike as much as movements on a narrower bar. Narrower handle bars lead to more twitchy steering.

To be fair, the handlebar on the AIRO is 3/4″ wider than the Strider, but to prevent their narrower bar from becoming a problem, Strider actually sells a wider 16″ wide handlebar for older riders to help them better fit on their bike.

Hornit does not currently sell a wider bar for older riders, which is the main reason why we don’t recommend it for taller riders.

Minimal Clearance for the Smallest of Riders

For the littlest of riders in 18-months clothes, when the seat post it lowered all the way down to the 11.25″ minimum seat height, the bottom end of the post offers very little ground clearance. When the AIRO’s saddle is at its lowest point, the seat post is only 1.5″ above the ground, which is extremely low.

The Strider has 2.25″, which still isn’t a lot, but much better. Other balance bikes with shorter seat posts have considerably more ground clearance, like the Banana Bike GT which has 3.25″.

Why does this matter? Because unless your child is sticking to entirely flat surfaces, the seat post can get caught on an uneven surface like the lip of brick on our front porch.

Seat post of the Hornit AIRO bottoms out on brick porch

To prevent a potential issue, Hornit offers a shorter seat post free of charge to AIRO customers. In future models, the AIRO will likely come with a shorter seat post, but for now, you will need to reach out and request one.

If you don’t reach out to get the smaller seat post, in order to prevent potential issues, we recommend not using the AIRO with the seat lower than 12″.

No Handbrake

The AIRO does not come with a handbrake, but we fully admit that we wish it did. While it is true that many toddlers do not have enough hand-eye coordination to use a handbrake, they typically gain this skill around 2.5 to 3-years-old.

By this age, many toddlers and preschoolers are getting aggressive on their balance bikes and a handbrake can help safety stop faster than with their feet. It also helps to extend the life of their shoes!

Footrest

The grippy footrests on the AIRO are well designed and thought out. Small enough to be unobtrusive, but large enough for a child to rest a portion of their foot, these footrests are highly effective. When cruising and gliding around the house, our 3-year-old thought they were pretty much the coolest thing ever.

Grippy footrest of the Hornit AIRO

Unfortunately, he kept placing his feet too far back on the footrest, which caused the heal of his shoe to rub on the rear tire. While blissfully unaware, the rubbing of this shoe did cause the bike to slow down much faster while he was gliding. Although we tired to get him to move his feet up, he quickly reverted back to his natural stace.

boys foot hitting the tire while using the footrest on the Hornit AIRO

In regards to footrest on any balance bikes, we’ve found that most kids don’t use them, but they certainly don’t hurt to have on the bike for those that do. That being said, you shouldn’t choose a balance bike because you think your child needs a footrest. While there’s nothing wrong with a well-designed footrest, kids don’t actually need them. It’s much more common for them to just lift their legs as they glide.

Headset and Handlebars

True headsets on a balance bike aren’t very common, but should be expected here considering the AIRO’s price point. A true headset keeps the handlebars aligned better over time, and during minor crashes where a cheaper bike’s handlebars would often twist out of place.

headset of Hornit AIRO

As mentioned earlier, the AIRO’s handlebars are more narrow than we would like. However, because the stem and handlebar are one piece, it’s not an option to simply swap the handlebar out for a wider bar, like it is on the Vitus Smoothy seen below.

Handlebars on Vitus Smoothy balance bike

Saddle and Seat Post

The curved saddle of the Hornit AIRO is designed to keep little bums from sliding too far back. It’s lightly padded and narrow for a child’s small frame.

Curved saddle of Hornit AIRO

The seat post does not have a quick-release collar and requires a tool to adjust the height. Because kids grow so quickly at this age, a quick release is such a convenient feature to have.

Hornit AIRO Balance Bike – Bottom Line

The Hornit AIRO is an amazing little bike to kickstart the smallest of toddler’s balance bike adventures. With a ridiculusly lightweight frame, paired with a smooth rolling tires and a padded saddle, little groms will be up and rolling in no time.

Due to its narrow handlebar, however, the AIRO isn’t ideal for taller toddlers or preschoolers, but for those littles ones in 3T pants or smaller, its one great little bike!

FTC Disclosure: Affiliate links are included in this review.  No monetary compensation was provided for this review, however, the reviewed product was supplied by the manufacturer or distributor to help facilitate this review. All opinions and images are that of Two Wheeling Tots LLC.  All content and images are copyrighted and should not be used or replicated in any way. View our Terms of Use.

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